Introduction: Popsicle Stick Crossbow

Picture of Popsicle Stick Crossbow

A simple but powerful crossbow made out of Popsicle sticks with a range of almost 9 meters.

Caution: The bow should not be aimed or shot at any human or animal. Although the bow dose not hurt if you shoot it at your hand at point blank range, it will hurt if it hits someone in the eye!

Step 1: Step 1: Getting the Materials

Picture of Step 1: Getting the Materials

1. Sand paper (low grain)
2. Popsicle sticks. You will need 30 Popsicle sticks. If you have access to them, using six tongue suppressors makes building the body a lot easier. Tongue depressors are available at most pharmacies.
3. Carpenters Glue
4. White Glue
5. 1 strong springy cloths peg
6. At least 1 C-clamp (I recommend 3) OR you have hold the pieces together with your hands for a long time (At least half an hour depending on the glue)
7. Ruler
8. Pencil
9. aprox. 6 hours

Step 2: Step 2: Making the Bow

Picture of Step 2: Making the Bow

1. Now glue the pop sickle sticks like in the picture.
(The glue points should be 2 cm wide)

2. Use the C-clamps to hold the joints together until the glue is dry.

3. Ok now that the glue has dried use WHITE glue to glue the 2 pieces together at the center.

4. Once the glue is dry, use whatever you decided is sharp enough to cut 4 small 'v' shaped notches 1.5 cm away from the edge on either end of the bow. The notches prevent the string from slipping.

5. Now you have to string the bow. Use a non-elastic string because the power comes from the force of the bent bow, not the string. Tie the string to the notch of one side of the Popsicle stick bow. Then, bend the bow and tie the string over the other side. The bow should arc about 5 cm away from the string.

Step 3: Step 3: Making Bolt

1. By rolling a quarter sheet of magazine paper very tightly you will make a bolt, you have to make the bolt by first folding the sheet a little then put some glue down, fold another layer down then glue, do this 1 more time then start rolling it very tightly.

2. You will notice it is about 3 mm by 5 mm on the front and back, it should be 10 cm long. You need the bolt to be slightly bulge so it will squeeze into the guide rail and still be tall enough to fired by the string.

New: You can also make fin stabilized,anti-cardboard bolts from half a kabob skewer with the tip sharped with sandpaper.

The fins are made with 2 pieces of tape, one on the bottom and one on top so the tape goes around the bolt and sticks together at the sides to form the fins. It should be able to stick itself into cardboard from 1 - 2 meters if you bow is strong enough and the bolt is flying straight.

Step 4: Step 3: Making the Shaft

Picture of Step 3: Making the Shaft

1a. If you have tongue suppressors, great. Stack them on top of each other, putting wood glue between each layer. Clamp them together with a C-clamp until they're dry. Make sure it is as thick as the bow like in the picture.

1b. If you only have Popsicle sticks, you can glue two together side by side and layer them up in the same way.

Notice: Don't attach the bow at this step.

Step 5: Step 4: Making the Guide Rail

Picture of Step 4: Making the Guide Rail

1. Make a guide rail with 2 pop-sickle sticks the pop-sickle sticks should be 3 mm wide, just so the bolt will stick into the guide rail , and stick up so the string will hit it when released.

2. With 2 pieces of Popsicle sticks make the guide rail.

Step 6: Step 5: Firing Mechanism

Picture of Step 5: Firing Mechanism

Notice: you might want to stack the Popsicle sticks Glue on the extension of the guide rail then check if everything is aligned.

1. First extend the shaft to 20 - 21 cm with 2 sticks under the shaft at the end
2. Once the glue dries, cut some Popsicle sticks in half and layer them (with glue) until the middle of the clothespin is the aligned with the guide rail. If the string is released above the guide rail, it will never make contact with the bolt; too far below and the string will catch on the guide rail. Use the sand paper if necessary.
3. Sand the TOP guide rail (don't make the gap bigger) to reduce friction.
4. You should have something like what's in the picture.

Step 7: Step 6: Putting It All Together

Picture of Step 6: Putting It All Together

1. Take the sand paper and sand down the front of the shaft to make it reasonably flat.
2. Then take the bow and find the exact center, mark it with a pencil.
3. Put a blob of carpenters glue on the front of the shaft.
4. Put the bow on the front at exact center, and pull the bow string back and lock it in the cloths peg, wait one night.

Step 8: Step 7: FIRE!!!

1. Pull the string back and lock it into the back hole of the cloths peg.
2. Put the bolt into the guide rail in front of the cloths peg, press the arrow in gently narrow side first. With the bulge sticking up so when the string is released it will launch the bolt.
3. Aim and...........(DON'T aim at a human OR animal)
4. FIRE!!! (By pressing on the cloths peg it you don't know how)
5. Go find you bolt. (repeat step 1 - 5 to fire again)


ThatCampingKid (author)2016-01-16

wow, i saw someone make a tiny crossbow out of Popsicle sticks but this is sick

mnbvcxzlkjhgfdsa (author)2011-09-08

crossbow is sick man where did u get the string

JCR_10 (author)mnbvcxzlkjhgfdsa2015-04-23


yapoyo (author)2012-01-24

possible ammo
* straw
* pen tube
* pen ink cartridge
* skewer
* sticks

JCR_10 (author)yapoyo2015-04-23

It not dosen work

JCR_10 (author)2015-04-23

You can also make a bow too

MelonBullet (author)2013-09-26

Does 5 minute epoxy work?

Tankerletank (author)2013-05-21

how about gorilla wood glue

lucasgui (author)2010-03-22

Is possible to me to use Hot Glue instead of Carpenters Glue and White glue?

yapoyo (author)lucasgui2012-01-01

it works if you don't mind repairing it often, otherwise, use gorilla glue or carpenter's glue;.

yapoyo (author)yapoyo2012-01-24

* Uhh actually gorilla glue is useless, it only works as art medium

lucasgui (author)lucasgui2010-03-22

By the way, which kind of string did you use?

Darkknight512 (author)lucasgui2010-03-22

Hot glue might be a bit too weak, carpenters glue is really TOUGH.

For string I just used some white dollarstore string, twine should work just as well.

lucasgui (author)Darkknight5122010-03-22

Yep, Hot glue is very weak , so i started to make some glue webs around my house with this :D

I'm almost done, i only need to buy some string and find a clothespin around my house, but i believe there are only the plastic ones here...

lucasgui (author)lucasgui2010-03-24

I've done my Cbow, but now i have a issue:
After some shots, i feel like the string gets weaker, and i don't believe neither the bow is bent nor the string is getting consumed little by little . Someone knows how to fix that, so i can fire at full power almost every time?

Capt. Kidd (author)lucasgui2010-09-15

your string is stretching. cut it and buy new string.

D00M99 (author)Capt. Kidd2010-12-17

As some responses to questions in this comment chain:

I made a few of these and have a few tips. As stated before don't use hot glue as continual use eventually pulls apart the bow section from the handle. For string I could not find any and ended up using yarn, and it works fine. I think any type of string would work as long as it's pretty resistant to the friction that happens from firing the bow. I noticed after many uses the yarn started rubbing away and thinning out in the middle where the string sits on the handle.

Another thing is the way the string is attached to the bow. I tried the notch thing noted in this Instructable and I found out that when I bend the bow arch the two "halves" of the bow ended up as different lengths. As a result I had to glue the string onto the bow.

Also, if your constructing a crossbow like this and you want the maximum amount of power do NOT do it exactly as written. I did this the first time and the straw I used kinda just plopped a bit. I noticed that the bow was not at the strongest arc so I made another one based on how far I could pull the bow without breaking the bow or the string. I managed to make one with two popsicle lengths and this one went pretty far.

To keep it in good condition try not to keep the bow drawn ALL the time. It'll help alot.

Also thinking of using the bow part of this crossbow and extending it to make something similar to a ballista and similar to the bola launcher in How To Train Your Dragon. Will post!

yapoyo (author)2011-12-31

Hot glue works for me, this is the best thing i have crafted

yapoyo (author)yapoyo2012-01-01

actually it breaks gorilla glue works well

rhelton (author)2011-06-17

what kind of string did you use for the bowstring?

Wehrmacht (author)2011-01-28

I think we can use paper binders instead of clothes pegs(in my situation,i have plastic pegs which aren't very tough...)

chaoshawk (author)2010-08-13

how do you make the bow bend without breaking

Darkknight512 (author)chaoshawk2010-08-13

Just use carpenters glue and give it a little time after drying to cure and you can just bend the bow. The part that can break easily would probably be the glue joints.

nutsandbolts_64 (author)2010-06-12

Bamboo skewer ammo how-to: 1) Get a raw bamboo pole 2) Grab a hatchet 3) Hack the bamboo pole along its length 4) Hack it again only a bit spaced apart from the other hack 5) Cut the resulting thin piece of bamboo off 6) Cut that into desired pieces It's like "How to hack a bamboo pole". Oh wait... right, the disclaimer: DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for loss of limb/finger/vital organ/property/some other guy.

alex4646 (author)2010-05-30

hey, you could add a handle by cracking some pop sickle sticks in half and glue em together then cut that at an angle and glue it onto the bottom shaft part. i like how you use strings instead of lame rubber bands

Darkknight512 (author)alex46462010-05-30

I could do that but I got used to holding it the way it is. I wanted this to be a genuine crossbow, not some elastic powered launcher, when I was designing this I wanted the wood to bend.

alex4646 (author)Darkknight5122010-06-01

ok, thats fine and elastic powered crossbows arent even crossbows they are either oversized slingshots or waste of wood

mashedpotato13 (author)2010-04-01

Does rubber cement work ( I'm not kidding) ?

NaesDraw (author)2010-02-21

Sorry for the delay, but here we go on those pics.

String bows!



Darkknight512 (author)NaesDraw2010-02-21

Looks great man, can you fire a bolt to go into your dart board over there?

NaesDraw (author)Darkknight5122010-02-21

I could, but I'd need to make a pointed bolt, I'm fresh out. The cat got to 'em. It's really a foam pin board. It does work well however, I have three layers on the bow arm.

theoriginalturtle (author)2010-02-21

my part thats to be strung keeps snaping when i try to bend it. what kind of glue sdid you use

I used carpenters wood glue. Be sure to clamp it for a bit longer to allow it to not only dry but cure.

hamby40 (author)2010-01-07

look those bolts gont work well use toothpicks or bamboo skewers instead

Capt. Kidd (author)2009-06-25

its sorta called a touge depressor.

paperclip32 (author)Capt. Kidd2009-11-14

 whats a touge?

Capt. Kidd (author)paperclip322009-12-09

tongue i meant

paperclip32 (author)Capt. Kidd2009-12-10

 haha okay.

XDleader555 (author)2009-12-01

My crossbow

Darkknight512 (author)2009-11-14

I have added some new stuff to the "Making Bolt" part, I might be making a new crossbow soon with some improvements because I made this a number of years ago and noticed a few problems with it.

Darkknight512 (author)2009-08-20

I made a few addons for my Crossbow since I wrote this instructables, I added a peice of toothpick to the top of the clothes peg to act as an iron sight. I also added fin stablizers to the bolt now made of a skewer. It is just 2 peices of tape on the end. This makes the crossbow MUCH more accurate.

NaesDraw (author)2009-08-11

You may want to elaborate on the fact of not gluing the entire bow together, just the center - I just snapped my trying to string it. That's a off and on day of work in pieces..... :/

Darkknight512 (author)NaesDraw2009-08-12

Just make it look like the line drawing at the bottom.

NaesDraw (author)Darkknight5122009-08-15

Did it the right way and it's working fine now. Might want to un-string it when not in use - I noticed mine is staying bent somewhat when loose

Darkknight512 (author)NaesDraw2009-08-15

Pics? I left mine strung for years and it still fires with the same amount of power. I am thinking of reviving this project and make a larger bow and longer stock, maybe using 4 bows instead of 2 in this one.

NaesDraw (author)Darkknight5122009-08-17

Of mine? It looks like yours, but with a extra stick on the front. That's a good idea however, I might add at least one more bow piece on myself.

Darkknight512 (author)NaesDraw2009-08-17

Yea, just interested to see how yours turned out.

tomtom0897 (author)2009-07-10

What does this thing shoot?

Darkknight512 (author)tomtom08972009-08-12

Skewers, straws, paper bolts ect.

Darkknight512 (author)2009-08-10

Hey guys, I haven't been here for a long time, I tried something the other day, use wooden skewer as the bolts, its actually worked quite well, 1 skewer makes 2 bolts, if the string misses the bolt a lot stick a little bit of hotglue on the back, and they work perfectly, quite a bit more accurate then the paper ones too.

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